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Fantasy Pool Look: The roar of the Panthers

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The Florida Panthers are not a great team. Even Panthers fans will admit that much. But they don’t seem to be as weak as we once figured. Offensively, the team doesn’t boast even a single player with 30 points. But have they improved on that area of the game as well?

The Panthers are 4-0-1 in their past five and have scored an impressive 27 goals in that span, which is 5.4 per game. While the fantasy owners in your league continue to look down their noses at any Florida players, you could take advantage of that by opening your mind a little.

There are three main reasons for the recent surge in scoring that while not as amazing as what we are seeing Boston do, is certainly a bit of a surprise.

First and foremost, you will probably see Michael Frolik receive a lot of Calder consideration come April. Granted, 19 points in 39 games is pretty weak up against what Steve Mason or Kris Versteeg are doing, but Frolik is on the move.

The 20-year-old Czech managed just two points in his first 19 NHL contests, which means he has scored 17 in his past 20. That’s what I mean when I say he’s on the move for the Calder.

So, essentially, the Panthers have “added” a first-line star.

The second big reason for the team’s turnaround is the return of Nathan Horton as a producer. This is a ripple effect of the first reason – with Frolik now a threat, Horton gets some room to breath. It took Horton a few games to get his timing back after missing nine games with an ankle injury, but he has seven points in his past six and is the star Florida was expecting – it just took a few extra months.

Third reason – thy name is David Booth. In him, Florida hoped for a third-line player who could chip in 45 points or so, but astute poolies saw a legitimate dark horse in this guy. Those of you who read October’s FPL column would have already jumped on Booth, who is on pace for 60 points.

Adding these three elements helps everything else fall into place. Things such as:

• Jay Bouwmeester’s traditional second-half surge

• Radek Dvorak’s 17 points in his past 23 games

• Solid goaltending from both Tomas Vokoun and Craig Anderson

• Ville Peltonen’s 17 points in his past 24 games

All this does not assure Florida of a playoff spot. In fact, they are still probably going to be on the outside looking in. However, this does prove that Miami isn’t a fantasy-hockey dead zone, like, say, Columbus…

Alexander Steen may have just 12 points in 21 games since joining St. Louis, but if you analyze the numbers more carefully you will be impressed.

Steen didn’t get his first point in a Blues uniform until his seventh game, so all 12 of those points came in his past 15 games. Catch a fellow owner asleep and scoop him up – he should be a 60- to 70-point player going forward. Steen missed the last game against the Edmonton Oilers because of a foot injury, but X-rays were negative so he should not miss a lot of time.

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Saturday throughout the season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the 1st of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.

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